Greece Golden Dawn: Neo-Nazi leaders guilty of running crime gang

October 9, 2020

After a trial lasting more than five years, the leadership of Greece's neo-Nazi party has been convicted of running a criminal organisation.
Big crowds gathered outside the court in Athens as the judges gave verdicts on 68 defendants.
Golden Dawn secured 18 MPs in 2012, as Greeks were battered by a financial crisis.
The criminal inquiry into the party began with the murder of an anti-fascist musician in 2013.
Leader Nikos Michaloliakos and six colleagues were convicted of heading a criminal group. Supporter Giorgos Roupakias was found guilty of murdering an anti-racist musician and 15 others were convicted of conspiracy in the case.
Some 2,000 police were deployed around Athens Appeals Court as thousands of protesters demanded long jail terms, carrying banners that read "fear will not win" and "Nazis in prison", Greek media reported.
Tear gas was fired into the crowd as some of the protesters clashed with police and threw petrol bombs.
People gather outside the Athens courthouse, as they wait for the verdict of the trial of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), in Athens
Eleven of the defendants were in the court when the verdict was read out, along with 50 attorneys and 50 journalists.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the verdict was an important day for democracy and proof that Greek institutions were able to "fend off any attempt to undermine them".
Hundreds of witnesses gave evidence in the trial, which was delayed this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who was on trial?
At the centre of the trial are Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and 18 ex-MPs who were elected in 2012 when the neo-Nazi party came third in national elections on an anti-immigrant, nationalist platform. Golden Dawn no longer has any MPs in parliament.
After they won almost 7% of the vote in May 2012, emboldened supporters attacked political opponents and migrants.
Golden Dawn supporter Giorgos Roupakias had already confessed to the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The musician was chased down by thugs and stabbed in Piraeus in September 2013.
As the verdict was delivered, Fyssas's mother Magda cried out, "My Pavlos defeated them alone!".
What were the verdicts?
The key verdict on Wednesday was that Golden Dawn - Chrysi Avgi in Greek - was a criminal group. Its leadership was found guilty of running it.
They included Michaloliakos and six former MPs - Ilias Kasidiaris, Ioannis Lagos, Christos Pappas, Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Ilias Panagiotaros and Giorgos Germenis. The other ex-MPs were found guilty of joining a criminal organisation.
Magda Fyssa, mother of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was murdered in 2013 by a member of Golden Dawn, reacts at the announcement of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn's (Chrysi Avgi) verdict.
The three judges, led by Maria Lepeniotou, were due to deliver sentencing later.
As well as the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, defendants in the trial were also convicted of other violent attacks on migrants and left-wing political opponents.
Photo dated on June 24, 2012 of Pavlos Fyssas. The 34-year-old was fatally stabbed in the working-class Athens district of Keratsini early on September 18, 2013
Five Golden Dawn members were convicted of the attempted murders of Egyptian fishermen and four of the attempted murder of communist activists in the PAME union.
As the Golden Dawn leaders were convicted, very few inside the room applauded but outside thousands began to celebrate.
I felt very satisfied, of course. Because I knew the facts revealed during those five and a half years, and I was always optimistic.
From 2010, Golden Dawn had managed to poison the Greek political system and democratic institutions, securing contacts with the army, the police, the judiciary and the Church.
It is an excellent verdict.
Short presentational grey line
Who is their leader?
Nikos Michaloliakos founded the movement in the mid-1980s and was admirer of Nazism and a Holocaust denier, giving the Hitler salute at party rallies.
But he had always denied any knowledge of the Pavlos Fyssas murder. When police raided his home in 2013, they found weapons and ammunition.
Golden Dawn officially denied being a neo-Nazi movement, but its badge closely resembled a swastika, some senior members praised Adolf Hitler, and the clothing of choice at anti-immigrant protests was black T-shirts and combat trousers.
Witnesses told the trial that members were trained to handle weapons and used Nazi symbols.
Greece's Golden Dawn: 'Don't say a word or I'll burn you alive'
Jail fails to deter Greek far right
Greek bailout crisis in 300 words
Last December, chief prosecutor Adamantia Economou prompted uproar, with a call for the party officials to be cleared, arguing there was no evidence they had any part in planning or carrying out the series of attacks.
How has Greece reacted
There has been disgust at Golden Dawn across the political spectrum in Greece.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would not normally comment on court decisions but said the Greek republic had first expelled Golden Dawn from parliament and now Greece's independent judiciary had acted too. "Democracy won today. It is up to us that it wins every day," he said.
The verdict was praised as "just" and "historic" by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was president of Greece until earlier this year.
Centre-left political leader Fofi Gennimata said the decision sent a strong message to Europe that "fascism has no place in our lives".
Nils Muiznieks of Amnesty International also said the trial sent a clear message: that "violent and racist criminal activity - whether perpetrated by individuals on the street or members of parliament - will not go unpunished".
Meanwhile, the Jewish cemetery in Athens was daubed this week with anti-Semitic graffiti and Nazi slogans, prompting condemnation from Greek ministers and the Jewish community.
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בכיר ביוטיוב: "מנסים להקשות על פרסום שנאה והסתה"

משלחת של כ-100 שרים, חברי פרלמנט, סנאטורים ודיפלומטים מרחבי אירופה התכנסה בגיא ההריגה בבאבי יאר באוקראינה - מקום הרצחם של יותר מ-30,000 יהודים על ידי הנאצים ומשתפי פעולה בזמן השואה. המחוקקים וקובעי המדיניות האירופאים נענו להזמנת איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה EJA והגיעו לבירת אוקראינה ערב יום השואה הבינלאומי והאתגרים הגיאופוליטיים. מנהל המדיניות הציבורית של יוטיוב, באירופה, מרקו פנצ'יני, סקר בפניי באי הכנס את האסטרטגיה של החברה למאבק בשיח שנאה והסתה.
קודם לביקור בגיא ההריגה בבאבי יאר, התכנסו המחוקקים האירופים לכינוס מיוחד שיזם יו"ר ה-'EJA הרב מנחם מרגולין ודנו בדרכים אופרטיביות ואפקטיביות למאבק באנטישמיות הגוברת ברחבי היבשת – הן במערכות החינוך הפורמליות, הן ברשתות החברתיות.
במהלך הוועידה, הוחלט על הקמתן של קבוצות עבודה פרלמנטריות ייעודיות למאבק באנטישמיות שיוקמו בבתי מחוקקים ברחבי היבשת ויפעלו לגיבוש ותיאום חקיקה וקווים מנחים למאבק באנטישמיות ובניסיונות הכחשה וטיוח של השואה.
הרב מנחם מרגולין יו"ר איגוד הקהילות היהודיות ומרכז רבני אירופה: "כדי לחסן את העולם מהמגיפה הנוראה של האנטישמיות, כדי להגן על הילדים של כולנו משנאת האחר, אי אפשר עוד להשאיר את לימוד השואה כנושא וולונטרי או כשיעור אחד או שניים בלימודי היסטוריה. לימוד השואה ולקחיה חייב להיות נדבך מרכזי בהקניית כישורי החיים של הדור הצעיר – בבתי הספר, כמו גם באוניברסיטאות וזה צריך להיות מעוגן בחקיקה מחייבת ולא כהמלצה בלבד".

הרב מנחם מרגולין, יו"ר איגוד הארגונים היהודים באירופה (EJA) • קרדיט: יוסי זליגר
עוד אמר הרב מרגולין: "לא מספיק יום בלוח השנה. אין די בטקסים. אפילו לא בהכרזות של פוליטיקאים. כדי לחסן את העולם מהמגיפה הנוראה של האנטישמיות, כדי להגן על הילדים של כולנו משנאת האחר, עלינו להשכיל ולהבין שלימוד השואה ולקחיה לא יכול להישאר כלימוד פרק אחד או שניים בשיעורי ההיסטוריה. לימוד השואה ולקחיה חייב להיות נדבך מרכזי בהקניית כישורי החיים של הדור הצעיר – בבית הספר, כמו גם באוניברסיטאות. זה חשוב לאירופה ולעולם לא פחות משזה חשוב לעם היהודי או לכל לאום או מגזר או מגדר באוכלוסייה כזאת או אחרת".
בכינוס השתתפו רבנים רבים מאירופה, הרב משה ראובן אסמן רבה של אוקראינה, והרב בנימין יעקובס הרב הראשי להולנד וחבר נשיאות מרכז רבני אירופה.
גם רבה של אומן הרב יעקב ג'אן השתתף במשלחת רבנים ודיפלומטים אירופאים לבאבי יאר, לציון יום השואה הבינלאומי, האירוע נערך בשיתוף הפדרציה היהודית באוקראינה בראשותו של היו"ר הרב מאיר סטמבלר.

הרב מנחם מרגולין, יו"ר איגוד הקהילות היהודיות ומרכז רבני אירופה, הרב בנימין יעקובס רבה של אולנד, הרב משה ראובן אסטמן רבה של אוקראינה עם רבה של אומן הרב יעקב ג'אן

נשיא הפרלמנט של אוקראינה, רוסלן סטפנצ'וק ציין כי: "אוקראינה היא המדינה עם הכמות הרביעית הגבוהה ביותר בעולם של חסידי אומות עולם. הפרלמנט האוקראיני אימץ לאחרונה חוק למלחמה באנטישמיות והנצחת השואה במדינה. זיכרון, מחקר והנצחה, הם הדרכים היחידות להילחם באנטישמיות", אמר. "הזוועות קרו כולן כי אנשים שתקו כתוצאה מפחד, אדישות ואגואיזם – ועלינו לחנך את דור העתיד כדי שינהג אחרת".
ג'ואל מרגי, נשיא הקונסיסטואר של יהודי פריז, הקהילה היהודית הגדולה באירופה, שיתף את החששות של הקהילה היהודית בצרפת ערב יום השואה הבינלאומי: "סטטיסטיקה שנתית מראה שמספר התקריות האנטישמיות בשנת 2021 גדל בצרפת בהשוואה לשנת 2020. במיוחד עלייה באלימות. יש עלייה של קיצוניות בצרפת, באירופה ובשאר העולם. זה מאוד מדאיג מכיוון שהאנטישמיות הזו מגיעה הן מהימין הקיצוני והן מהשמאל הקיצוני וגם מהאסלאמיזם. במלחמה בשנאה יש להתייחס ספציפית לאנטישמיות. ד"ר מרגי קרא למנות נושא תפקיד האחראי למאבק באנטישמיות בכל מדינה באירופה. "למרבה הצער לעתים קרובות, מדינות ממנות אדם האחראי למלחמה בשנאה. אך יש להתייחס לכל צורה של שנאה אחרת".
מנהל המדיניות הציבורית של יוטיוב, באירופה, מרקו פנצ'יני, סקר בפניי באי הכנס את האסטרטגיה של החברה למאבק בשיח שנאה והסתה וציין: "מה שאנחנו מנסים לעשות זה להקשות ככל האפשר על פרסום דבריי שנאה והסתה על גבי הפלטפורמה שלנו. בכל פעם שאנחנו מוצאים משהו שמנוגד למדיניות שלנו לגביי שיח שנאה, אנחנו לא רק מסירים אותו אלא גם מזהים את המרכיבים בקטע התוכן הזה והאלגוריתמים שלנו מחפשים תוכן דומה. בנוסף, יש לנו מומחים שיכולים להתמודד עם תוכן כזה גם בהרבה במגוון רחב של שפות שאינן אנגלית".
הרב מאיר סטמבלר, יו"ר פדרציית הקהילות היהודיות באוקראינה, אמר כי "הקהילות היהודיות במדינה מתחדשות בתמיכה מלאה של השלטונות. קיימת דואליות רבה ביחס לגיבורי האומה שהיו גם אנטישמים ואנחנו מתריעים על כך אבל מבינים שזו אומה שהולכת ונבנית מחדש לאחר 70 שנות קומוניזם וכמי שמתהלך ברחובות קייב עם כל הסממנים של יהודי דתי, אני חייב לציין שבקייב אני מרגיש הרבה יותר בטוח כיהודי מאשר בפריז, בריסל, לונדון או כל בירה אירופית אחרת".
https://www.bhol.co.il/news/1330699?utm_source=whatsapp&utm_medium=robot

A letter from Israeli PM Office to EJA

The EJA is proud to share with you a letter we received from the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister rightly points out that we put Jerusalem at the heart of our upcoming conference. It is the capital and the beating heart of the Jewish people and a city that is dedicated to safeguarding freedom of religion for all.

We thank the Prime Minister for his warm words of encouragement and support for our work, and look forward to many more years of activities that, as he points out, “contributes greatly to the welfare and continuity of the Jewish people.”

Prime Minister office - 2018

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel

A Jewish cemetery in Belgrade, Serbia was vandalized Wednesday night, when an axe, hammer and stones were thrown through the window of its chapel.
A spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Belgrade told The Algemeiner that the incident had caused serious material damage, noting that if the chapel had been occupied, it could have resulted in “severe physical injuries or even death.”
The spokesperson said that “this act reminds us of Kristallnacht,” the Nazi-led riots against the German Jewish community in 1938.
On Thursday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote to Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a full investigation.

“It is clear that whoever was responsible has no respect for the dead, never mind the living,” Margolin said in a statement. “We extend our support to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, who must be reeling at this attack, and feeling vulnerable.”

“I have written to Serbian minister of Internal Affairs asking for a robust response to the attack, as well as a full throated condemnation, lest the antisemites that carried out this act believe that it is now open season on Jewish buildings in Serbia.”

The vandalism is the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents to hit the Belgrade Jewish community. The Jewish Community told The Algemeiner of repeated antisemitic harassment against a prominent Jewish epidemiologist, including graffiti that compared him to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, as well as demonstrations outside the epidemiologist’s home in which demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David.
Threats of a second Holocaust have also been received at the Community’s Facebook page, as well as Nazi symbols, antisemitic emails, and other threats.

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel


 

Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.

It’s no rare thing for the Israeli prime minister to enrage the Jews of the diaspora. But three years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that won him near-universal condemnation.

In the aftermath of several deadly attacks in European cities like Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu called on Jews to leave Europe. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country. But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” he said, echoing comments he had made more subtly the month before at Paris’s Grand Synagogue.

Mr. Netanyahu’s suggestion of “mass immigration” was “unacceptable,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association. Abraham Foxman, then head of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested such a policy would “grant Hitler a posthumous victory.” Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said he was “disappointed.” Smadar Bar-Akiva, the executive director of JCC Global, said “the calls for French Jews to pack their bags” and move were “disturbing and self-defeating.”

François Hollande, then president, echoing a chorus of European leaders, pushed back hard, appealing to his country’s Jews: “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

Is it?

This is a question worth seriously asking following the barbaric murder last week of Mireille Knoll.

Ms. Knoll, 85, believed Mr. Hollande. France was her place, her home, her country. And Paris was her city.

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

She remained in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement when, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was stabbed 11 times. Her apartment was then set on fire. Firefighters found the burned body on Friday night.

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler.

Two suspects, a 29-year-old and a 21-year-old, have been arrested. The older man is a neighbor Ms. Knoll has known since he was a child. The younger, according to reports, is homeless. One of the suspects told the investigators that the other had shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing Ms. Knoll, according to Le Monde. (A lawyer for the Knoll family, Gilles-William Goldnadel, confirmed that in a phone call.) On Tuesday, Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, told Parliament that one of the attackers had told the other: “She’s a Jew. She must have money.”

In fact, Ms. Knoll was “poor,” according to her son, Daniel. She’d lived most of her life in the same apartment in the subsidized housing project where she was killed.

It’s a neighborhood that has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Mr. Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Ms. Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below.

It took months for Ms. Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. “It was scandalous,” said Mr. Goldnadel, the lawyer, who also represented the Halimi family.

This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” On Wednesday, he said that she was murdered “because she was Jewish” at a tribute to a police officer killed in an Islamist attack. Mr. Macron has been widely praised by the country’s Jewish community for his moral clarity in describing anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism was supposed to be a disease of the far right. But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists.

“The major crimes against the Jewish community — Ilan Halimi, the Toulouse killings, the Hyper Cacher killings, Sarah Halimi — all of them have all been carried out by radicalized Muslims,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups, told me in a call from Paris. “These young people have French identity cards, but they hate what France stands for. This is the nature of the problem we are facing. And it’s very hard to talk about.”

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims, conducted by the AJC Paris and the French think tank Fondapol, found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. The rest of the survey is just as devastating.

For years now, France has deployed armed troops to protect Jewish synagogues and schools. But the violence on the streets — a 15-year-old girl wearing the uniform of her Jewish school slashed in the face; an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah assaulted; teenage siblings called “dirty Jews” before being beaten — hasn’t abated. On Wednesday, hours before a march in honor of Mireille Knoll, the office of the Union of French Jewish Students at the Sorbonne was ransacked and defaced with graffiti like “Viva Arafat” and “death to Israel.”

Whatever else the investigation of Ms. Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: The men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which sensitivity toward cultural differences have driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

In the wake of Ms. Knoll’s murder, all of the usual lines are being repeated. Anti-Semitism is the hatred that never dies. Violence that begins with the Jews never ends with them.

All of this is true. What’s also true is that anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the world because individual people have sustained it in every generation. It cannot be defeated until we look these people and their ideologies in the face.

Every French Jew — like millions of Jews throughout history — will have to make their own choice about whether to leave their homes for safer shores or to stay and fight for their rightful place in a country that prides itself on being a beacon of liberty and fraternity. But perhaps the better part of wisdom is with one of Mireille Knoll’s granddaughters, Noa Goldfarb. Following her grandmother’s murder, she wrote in a Facebook post from Israel: “Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there.”

The article was published on The New York Times
 

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